Qualities of the Labrador Retriever

Labradors make good companions for children.
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Labrador retrievers make great family pets. According to the American Kennel Club, Labrador retrievers are the most commonly registered dog breed in the United States. The breed’s popularity stems from a combination of its qualities, including its size, temperament and their glossy coat.

Big and Beautiful Canine

While not as large as Great Danes and rottweilers, Labradors are no lightweights. They average up to 24 inches in height (not counting their head) and can weigh up to 80 pounds. Labs also have strong bodies, particularly their legs and shoulders, so they can play with the kids without getting injured as some smaller, more fragile breeds might. Of all its physical characteristics, the one distinguishing feature in all Lab colors is the head. Labradors have broad, almost square-shaped head with strong jaws.

Available in Three Colors

According to the official AKC breed standard, Labrador retrievers can come in three colors: chocolate, yellow and black. However, as PetMD points out, black is by far the most common color for these energetic dogs. The Lab has both an outer and an undercoat. While the outercoat is short and coarse, the undercoat is softer and thicker. This warm undercoat comes in handy during cold hunting seasons, but it also makes the dogs nearly waterproof.

The Lab Personality

Probably the most popular Labrador quality is its personality. The breed is described as outgoing, friendly, and nonaggressive, which are all positive characteristics for a family pet. Because of their background as companions to hunters, Labs are eager to make their owners happy so they follow directions, take to training well and adapt easily to new environments. Labs are also intelligent dogs so they learn quickly, but that intelligence also can get them into trouble if they lack enough stimulation and exercise. Labs are notorious for chewing and digging so leaving them unsupervised and bored in the house or backyard is not a good idea.

Health Issues and Labradors

As with any breed, Labs may face health problems. Some health issues are hereditary such as elbow and hip dysplasia. Ensuring the parents of your puppy were certified free of these issues will improve the likelihood that your Labrador will not develop these conditions. The same is true for progressive retinal atrophy, a hereditary condition that can cause blindness in Labs. Another way to reduce the risks of bone and joint problems in Labradors is to monitor their weight. This breed does have a tendency to pack on the pounds, especially without regular exercise, and that extra weight puts more strain on the joints increasing the risk of problems developing.